Abortion-rights supporters are working to put reproductive rights directly to voters in 2024, part of an effort to boost turnout and buoy Democratic candidates after a string of state-level victories on the issue.
(Bloomberg) — Abortion-rights supporters are working to put reproductive rights directly to voters in 2024, part of an effort to boost turnout and buoy Democratic candidates after a string of state-level victories on the issue.
On Tuesday, voters in Ohio overwhelmingly rejected a measure that would have made it harder to pass an initiative on the ballot in November that would enshrine abortion rights into that state’s constitution.
Now, advocates are backing abortion-rights ballot initiatives in the presidential battleground of Arizona. Similar efforts are underway in Florida, Maryland, Missouri, New York and South Dakota, most of which have Senate elections in 2024.
“It’s definitely going to make every race more competitive,” said Lauren Blauvelt, co-chair of Ohioans United for Reproductive Rights, which is supporting the November measure.
Anti-abortion groups have vowed to fight the new measures. In a statement Tuesday, the Susan B. Anthony Pro-Life America called the results in Ohio “a warning for pro-life states across the nation” and arguing that Republicans and anti-abortion advocates will “lose again and again” if they don’t push back harder.
Politico reported Wednesday that a progressive organizing group called Indivisible has put its sights on Arizona’s proposed ballot initiative as a driver for voter turnout.
Such a measure would increase the “likelihood that pro-choice voters turn out to vote, boosting Democratic candidates up and down the ticket in a state with numerous, must-win competitive races at the Presidential, Senate, House, and state legislative level,” the group wrote to donors.
Recent elections in both Republican- and Democratic-leaning states have shown that support for abortion rights does get voters to the polls.
In Ohio, despite the summer date, turnout was high. Almost 38% of registered voters cast a ballot, according to state data, higher than the turnout for most primary elections when statewide seats are on the ballot.
Olivia Cappello, a spokeswoman for Planned Parenthood Action Fund, said that having abortion on the ballot forces candidates to confront the issue head on.
“Voters are going to be asking the candidates themselves,” she said.
National groups that support Democrats are among the biggest donors fueling Ohio’s ballot fights.
The Sixteen Thirty Fund, a political nonprofit that doesn’t have to disclose its donors, gave $2.6 million, more than any other donor to a group that helped defeat the proposal Tuesday in Ohio, state campaign finance disclosures show.
It was also the biggest donor to Ohioans For Reproductive Freedom PAC, which is pushing the November abortion-rights effort, giving $1.3 million. In 2020, the nonprofit donated $21 million to groups backing Joe Biden’s presidential campaign, according to OpenSecrets, making it the second biggest source of Democratic dark money in the race.
Polls show record highs in support for abortion access since the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade last year, with two-thirds saying in a Gallup poll that it should generally be legal in the first three months, though most oppose abortions later in pregnancy.
The vote in Ohio is just the latest election victory for abortion rights supporters.
In 2022, voters in California, Michigan and Vermont passed measures enshrining abortion rights in their state constitutions, while voters in Kansas, Kentucky and Montana defeated anti-abortion proposals. Earlier this year, a Wisconsin state supreme court candidate who pledged to back abortion rights won by a wide margin in another race with unusually high turnout.
Abortion will already be a top issue in the presidential election, as President Joe Biden has pledged to pass a law codifying the right to an abortion, while leading Republican contender Donald Trump appointed three of the justices who overturned Roe and his top rival, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, signed a strict six-week ban earlier this year.
–With assistance from Bill Allison.
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